Supreme Court rules on standard for removing case to federal court
Supreme Court rules on standard for removing case to federal court

The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 Monday in Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company, LLC v. Owens [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that a defendant seeking removal to federal court must indicate only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. The notice need not contain evidentiary submissions. Under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) [28 USC § 1332], defendants may remove class actions to federal courts if they involve at least 100 putative class members and at least $5 million in controversy. Dart failed to attach evidence of the grounds for removal, which Owens argued meant that the court could not make the finding that the jurisdictional requirements had been met. In an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court disagreed:

To assert the amount in controversy adequately in the removal notice, does it suffice to allege the requisite amount plausibly, or must the defendant incorporate into the notice of removal evidence supporting the allegation? That is the single question argued here and below by the parties and the issue on which we granted review. The answer, we hold, is supplied by the removal statute itself. A statement “short and plain” need not contain evidentiary submissions.

Justice Antonin Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan and by Justice Clarence Thomas to all but the last sentence. Thomas also filed a separate dissenting opinion.

The court heard arguments [JURIST report] in the case in October. Certiorari was granted [JURIST report] in April.